Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Leaving Anatomy

I have to share my "man" trip with you. 
Once upon a time, before school, I used to find ways to go off by myself for a day or so. Primarily, I would go off hiking, or check out some aspect of the area we were living's historical flavor. (ie, stuff that causes my wife's eyes to roll up in her head and fall asleep.) Since the new motorcycle entered my life, I have been earnestly seeking a chance to get away on some windy, twisty, roads and have me time. 

A member of our recovery group recently had to move to South Texas to find work. We had been trying to find a way to get together to work on his fifth step. The phone and Skype, didn't seem proper so bingo! an idea was formed in the recesses of my brain. I would take the scooter and meet him half way, awesome! However, my wife had other plans. 

My stepdaughter's fiance' needed help moving some things from Dallas to Houston. My wife, the lovely Lisa, suggested I take the bike to Dallas, load it on the moving truck, drive to Houston, meet my friend there for his step work, spend the night at my parents, and then take the long, scenic, way home. She is so amazing! So we plan it out. Due to work and school schedules I had to ride down early, like o-dark thirty from Longview to Arlington Sunday morning, before school started back on Tuesday. Plans are made, the fiance's dad rents the truck, and the newly betrothed gets a bus ticket to Dallas. 


Mother nature however, had other plans. A wicked rain along with snow was rolling in that Sunday morning. Like a retired farmer playing dominoes with the boys at the local feed store my tv had stayed on the weather channel full time. You tend to do that when you ride. I changed my plans and decided to leave late Saturday night after work to beat the storm.

I got off work about ten thirty, gassed up, and headed home to load my gear. I finally rolled off campus at 12:30. Notice how my handy dandy backpack is packed and strapped to the rear of the Ninja, it made for a terrific back rest.

Of course it was going to be cold, the forecast called for the high thirties and then dropping below freezing in Dallas. Houston would be in the forties, and then dropping to the mid thirties Monday, and of course as I drove north to go home Monday it would continue to drop back to freezing. I had spent the last few months gathering gear and preparing how I would survive a cold ride. Being "student poor" I would be relying on layers to keep myself warm. 

From the ground up, I had three pairs of heavy socks, boots, scooter shorts, long-johns, a pair of warm ups, jeans, and my windbreaker britches. From the waist up, a sport-dry undershirt, thermal pull-over, my thick nike sport shirt, a short sleeved t shirt, a zip up turtle neck pullover, my armored Joe Rocket ballistic jacket, and my leather jacket over that. Who know that eighties retread leather jacket would be of use again? From the neck up my balaclava head covering, a scarf around my neck and up to my nose, my warm beanie, and my helmet. 


As I hit highway 80 headed West towards Dallas I realized something strange. I had the whole road to myself. Except for the occasional car coming from the opposite direction, no one passed me, and no one was in front of me. It was incredible. My only concern was an animal running into my path. I rolled into Mineola and it was a ghost town.











Finally, about four am I rolled into Dallas and spent what was left of the night at a family friends house. I  had hardly closed my eyes when I awoke to the sound of rain banging on the roof and the sound of my alarm going off at 7:30 am. Quickly and quietly I got dressed, threw on all my gear and stepped outside. Great, my first ride on a big city freeway system and it was pouring down rain.
It took me an an hour and a half to get across town, I was soaked to to the bone, my clothes were drenched down to my socks. I was craving the heater of the Uhaul. Finally, wet and bedraggled, I met Ralph, the fiance', loaded the bike on the truck, and we were off to Houston.

Long story short, we made it into Houston and unloaded the truck. I met up with my friend and he bought me dinner at an awesome Mandarin Chinese place. We went to Starbucks and processed his fifth step.  

The best part of that day was riding the bike north on highway 59 through downtown Houston and out to my folks house in Humble. I grew up driving all through the city, and to do it on the bike was awesome. It was incredible. Its hard to describe unless you've experienced it. There was a sense of freedom while blasting by the George R Brown Convention Center, Minute Maid park, and zipping up Atascocita Road to my folks house. Finally, I arrived  gave big hugs, inspected the bike, washed my soaking clothes and went to bed.




I had a nice, but short visit with my folks, and took a great picture of me and my dad before I left Monday morning.
Got some gas at the local Chevron and took off home the long way around.











It was cold and grey outside as I headed north. I had chosen a route that took me inside two national forests, the Sam Houston, and the Crockett. I hit Cleveland, snuck around to Cold Springs, and up to Trinity, East to Crockett, Alto, Henderson, and finally home to Longview. It got colder and colder the further north I went. There were some great empty logging roads along the way. 


The temp stayed about 38 degrees until I crossed the Trinity River. It was here my arse was frozen off and left on the bridge. Once I left the shore and was on the bridge proper the temp dropped to about 25. Every bit of warmth on my body and captured by my layers was sucked into the atmosphere. I have never been colder. It was compounded by my mistake of not stopping for a break in Trinity. I pushed on through 32 more miles to Crockett. I was ten miles short of hypothermia when I pulled into a Pizza Hut for lunch and a warm up. I added two more layers to my gear and now I was looking like Ralphie's brother from a Christmas Story.














I turned onto Hwy 21 and pulled off at my only touristy stop. The historic marker of the Caddo Indian mounds just outside of Alto. I knew I would regret it if I did not stop and get a pic.


My final stop before home was Lovelady, a town just East of Henderson. It was a thirty minute layover where I drank some coffee and tried to coax some warmth back into my body. I was bitter cold and had had enough of the weather. I wanted to be home and in my bed. On the final push through Henderson it started sleeting and I had missed tucking my scarf into my jacket collar so I had a draft blowing into my neck and shoulder. I didn't care I just wanted to be home and have my arse back. 


Finally I rolled back onto campus. An amazing journey completed. It was miserable by all accounts but awesome at the same time. I had never been so cold or so happy in my life.

Larry

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